Saturday, January 8, 2011

"It's Not About You"

I'm a big fan of the dinner-party level of political and cultural analysis practised by Huffington Post, which is basically a series of random opinions offered by those who have no relevant qualifications whatsoever other than wealth and/or celebrity. There is no finer practioner of this form of cultural discourse than the site's founder, so when she decided to take aim at new media in museums I could barely contain my excitement. A self-declared "complete evangelist for new media," Arianna Huffington finds herself conflicted by the risk that social media will screw with people's "Fourth Instinct" a little known philosophical concept developed by.... Arianna Huffington.

I'm more of a First-to-Third Instincts kinda guy, so Arianna's carefully constructed arguments, involving quotes from Susan Sontag and the dude that runs USC's Brain and Creativity Institute, tended to go over my head. But in essence, her article forms part of a social media backlash, typified by Ed Rothstein's NYT piece on museum i-Phone apps in October of last year, which basically suggested that object tagging was a waste of time because the plebs that do it are all stupid (for evidence that this isn't actually true, take a look at this). In natural history museums we have our own version of this in the form of "Thomas H. Benton," a professor of English from Michigan whose vision of the ideal museum seems to have been taken from the pages of Titus Groan. What I love about all of them is the utter confidence with which they offer their expert opinions based, as far as I can tell, on the sole qualification of having visited a few museums. I travel on planes a lot, but (and call me chicken if you want) I don't feel that makes me a pilot.

Anyway, I was all fired up to go and write something along the lines of "you know nothing about this, so why don't you either 1) go and learn about it or 2) shut up." Then I found that Nina Simon had published the perfect riposte over on Museum 2.0, so I'm going to suggest that you go and read that instead.

1 comment:

  1. Resist the Dark Side, one said.

    Though, I admit that, I too, was tempted by the writings of the Idiot One, last week.